Volleyball gets set for Belmont Invitational
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 22:08
After wrapping up the final preseason intrasquad scrimmage Sunday, the Miami women's volleyball team is preparing to make its way to Nashville, Tenn. to open the regular season in the Belmont Invitational, which features Gardner-Webb University (GWU), the University of Memphis, and the hosting Belmont University.
“We've been preparing for each team’s qualities,” senior libero Madison Hardy said. "We've been practicing running a quick offense so that the teams will have to adjust to us and we'll go out there and play our own game."
Gardner-Webb is coming off of a 9-22 season in 2012 and had a 4-10 record in the Big South Conference. Senior middle blocker Tyler Cockrell led the Runnin' Bulldogs with 2.58 kills per set, 90 total blocks, and 354 points last season, while junior setter Heather Feldman recorded a team-high .350 attacking percentage and 9.48 assists per set. Sophomore libero Anna Pashkova led GWU in digs per set with 3.85 as well as being second on the team with .46 assists per set. The ’Dogs were last in the conference as a team with a .162 hitting percentage and next to last in digs per set with 13.7
After going 12-19 and 7-9 in Conference USA last season, Memphis has a promising outlook as well. Senior middle blocker Katie Meyer registered a team-high 97 blocks in 2012, while junior middle blocker Lauren Hawkins was third on the team with 1.87 kills per set and second in blocks with 80. Redshirt junior libero Aleksandra Petronijevic was the team leader with 4.49 digs per set. As a team, the Tigers were fourth in the twelve-team conference with 149 service aces, but they were eighth in kills per set with 12.38.
Belmont is coming off of a strong 2012 season in which they had a record of 11-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) and an 18-17 overall record. They return several players that served key roles during the season. Senior middle blocker Allison McCoy led the Bruins in with a .329 attack percentage and was second with 2.72 kills per set and 56 total blocks. The senior tandem of setter Hannah Miranda and libero Jamie Lundstrom compiled a team-best 10.57 assists per set and 5.11 digs per set, respectively. Belmont was ninth in the twelve-team OVC with 1.69 blocks per set and 1.09 service aces per set in 2012, while they were fourth in the conference with a hitting percentage of .198 and 12.12 assists per set.
“We've been doing some work in the preseason that'll be long-standing and has helped us prepare for this opening weekend,” assistant coach Chuck Rey said. “We've done some sand and stadium workouts that pushed our players as well as play mock matches to simulate the matches this weekend.”
Miami (10-20, 4-12 Mid-American Conference in 2012) returns Junior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley, led the team 3.80 points per set, 3.27 kills per set (ninth in the MAC), 0.26 service aces per set (tied for seventh in the MAC), and a .272 attack percentage last season. Hardy had the eighth most digs in the MAC in 2012 with 486, while redshirt sophomore middle hitter Jenny Ingle led the RedHawks with 0.85 blocks per set. As a team, the Red and White have plenty of room for improvement as they finished next to last in the MAC in assists, digs, and kills.
In addition to these players, Miami will also have the services of new assistant coaches Jenni Hirneisen and Rey along with head coach Carolyn Condit, who is entering her 30th season at the helm. Hirneisen is responsible for coaching the defense and passing, while Rey is in control of the offense for the ’Hawks.
“The culture here at Miami is unbelievable," Rey said of the transition to Oxford. “The program is not only built around love and honor, but also trust and loyalty which makes it easy to coach here. There is a lot already in place as far as administrative duties are concerned and it is a great opportunity to coach here.”
Hardy spoke of the effect the new assistants have had on the team thus far.
“They were here with the team since last spring,” she said. “We’re excited to have them and they bring a lot of energy to each and every practice.”
The ’Hawks will take on Gardner-Webb 5 p.m. Friday, and will then face Memphis and Belmont 11 a.m. and 7 p.m Saturday, respectively. All of the games this weekend will take place at the Curb Event Center in Nashville.